Hauntingly Beautiful

4.5 stars rounded up to 5. Only the Beautiful is a poignant historical novel set during the 1930s and 1940s that masterfully intertwines the lives of two remarkable women. The story begins in 1938 with sixteen-year-old Rosanne, whose life is shattered by the tragic deaths of her parents and brother in a car accident. Taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her entire life, Rosanne soon uncovers a dark secret about her new guardians. The narrative then shifts to 1947 Austria, where Helen Calvert witnesses Adolf Hitler’s ruthless pursuit of racial purity. Upon returning to her brother’s vineyard in California, Helen unravels the mystery of […]

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Exploring Time and Redemption in Venice

All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes is a novel that intertwines history, mystery, and faith in a richly detailed narrative set against the backdrop of Venice. The story spans two centuries and follows Sebastien Trovato and Daniel Goodman, whose lives intertwine through the enigmatic Book of Waters. 1807: Sebastien Trovato is found floating in a basket along the canals of Venice. Raised by a guild of artisans, he grows up skilled in various trades but haunted by questions about his origins. His quest for answers intensifies when a mysterious woman washes ashore on his lagoon island. 1904: Daniel Goodman, a reformed thief from California, seeks redemption and a fresh […]

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Haunting Mysteries and Historical Intrigue

“Right— we’re the good Orientals now. But I still can’t buy a house outside Chinatown. That’s ‘all men are created equal’ for you.”—Amy Chua, The Golden Gate. In 1944 Berkeley, California, presidential hopeful Walter Wilkinson is found dead in his room at the Claremont Hotel, launching an investigation by Homicide Detective Al Sullivan. Early evidence points to the three granddaughters of wealthy socialite Genevieve Hopkins Bainbridge and links to the 1930 murder of 7-year-old Iris Stafford, rumored to haunt the hotel. The Golden Gate, written by Yale law professor Amy Chua, is an old-fashioned detective novel rich with California history and real-life figures. The story alternates between Genevieve’s deposition and […]

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Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is a captivating story that combines science, romance, and a search for equality in the early 1960s. The story follows chemist Elizabeth Zott, who faces challenges working with an all-male team at Hastings Research Institute. Elizabeth falls in love with her colleague, has his child, and is fired due to double standards and scandal around her out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Her career takes an unexpected turn when she becomes the host of a popular daytime cooking show, Supper at Six, which introduces a revolutionary approach to cooking. The novel introduces readers to a quirky protagonist and a colorful cast of characters, including the intelligent dog, Six-Thirty, […]

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Bridge of Gold

  Bridge of Gold is an entertaining history lesson about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge during the Gold Rush era. Imagine constructing a 1.7-mile suspension bridge in the 1930s without modern equipment? To set the footings, divers wore clunky suits that weighed hundreds of pounds with heavy copper helmets. It’s mind blowing to me. As I read, I stopped many times to do online research. San Francisco’s famous fog and rocky coastline make for a deadly combination. There are an estimated three hundred wrecks in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the adjacent Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Fascinating. But I digress. Bridge of Gold is a […]

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September 2022 Picks and Pans

No five-star reads this month, but The Happiest Man on Earth was definitely life-changing. I gave one novel a 2-star rating, which is rare for me. I read two books set in the Philippines, which is totally random. I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say. Circle back to Facebook and let me know!   The Happiest Man on Earth By Eddie Jaku “Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you.” Eddie Jaku, The Happiest Man on Earth. In this uplifting memoir in the vein of The Last Lecture and Man’s Search for Meaning, a Holocaust survivor pays tribute to those who […]

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